I was starting to imagine the future would be people owning some type of organ incubator, probably bought with their Costco membership, growing one’s own replacement organs and extending life by 200 years. Who knows? If the body can be treated for rust, you can replace the transmission, the motor, the brakes, on and on. It made sense to me that future generations proceed just like that and then I came across Mary Harrington’s work, Feminism Against Progress. Her ideas give me pause about how smart I am not. She talks about the pill as the beginning of transhumanism, the thinking that we can and should use technology to upgrade what we are. The way she addresses it reminds me how music too, has absolutely morphed through technology into push button creativity. Most people seem to not notice that popular musics are so technology driven.
My wife played me two songs her French class is voting on for a new song competition. Both comprised of looped drum machines and arpeggiating synthesizers. I’m not challenging the composers to a duel but it sounds like creators only needed to know how to press a button. Another in the current line-up of music by light switch. The whole chat GPT thing has been years in digital music. Select a virtual drummer, they give them names. Select the speed of their drumming, the density of their fills. Later, call it your music and say you played every part. And you did (and you didn’t). There was no way for Cleopatra to know Neil Armstrong would walk on the moon. One never knows where the future is heading. Who knows what next will be called music or a man or a woman but I like where she is going, identifying this thing she calls transhumanism.
I especially like when she explains that the pill was a fundamentally different way of using medical technology. It doesn’t cure something that is wrong with a woman. Medicine previously is restorative, fixes things but “the pill fixes something that is right with a woman in order to better serve her desires”. It is a fundamentally different understanding of what medicine does or should be used for, “it is interrupting normal healthy human functioning in the interests of freedom”. That’s the crux of what stopped me, when she implies that people are asking why not use technology to accelerate whatever freedoms you desire. Something about this makes me think about the overload of electronic instruments and the many who have the freedom to call themselves artists and take credit for making this up. But the composition also, maybe moreso, is just a thing of technology.